Updated April 10, 2023
Introduction to Embedded Systems Security
Embedded system security is an approach strategically to protect the software that is running on top of the embedded systems from any severe threats. Programmable hardware with the integration of the operating system and software combines to form an embedded system. They are built to work as a committed function or a group of functions. They are generally launched in user’s in-car systems, process control systems, electronics, and similarly many other apps, these security systems have to be very flexible. There might be some security challenges for the developers to build these embedded systems as their sizes are small and are limited to compute resources.
What is Embedded Systems Security?
An embedded system is a computing system built into a larger system, designed for dedicated functions. It consists of a combination of hardware, software, and optionally mechanical parts. Security is an important issue because of the roles of embedded systems in many mission and safety-critical systems. Attacks on cyber systems are proved to cause physical damages. Embedded security systems are generally found in pharma, industries, daily life needs like home appliances, medical centers, or military components.
Few challenges faced in maintaining embedded security systems:
Below is the list of challenges faced in maintaining an embedded security system in recent times. They are:
- Irregular Security Updates: In recent times, there is several security upgradation that takes place. However, the embedded system that is deployed cannot match the upgrade and upgrade on its own. This is one of the major challenges faced by these security systems.
- Replicated Threats: The embedded systems are manufactured in huge demand and if the hacker can hack any one of the devices, they can also be able to hack the rest of the devices that are manufactured in that lot.
- Cyberattacks: Several cyber-attacks take place in recent times. This leads to a major challenge in building embedded security systems.
- Device Lifespan: Embedded system’s lifespan is longer than any computer resources. This becomes a challenge to match the need for security of the future.
- Consumer’s Protocols: Few protocols are set by the consumers that are not secured in the embedded systems or recognized by the security tools. So these protocols cause challenges in maintaining the embedded system either in industrial areas or in the infrastructural technology department.
How Embedded Systems Security is Done?
The embedded security system is done with the following steps. These steps are followed to maintain the security challenges faced earlier.
Step 1: End to end security tracker: End to end security tracker should be maintained to track the issues right from identifying the threats. Once the threat is identified, we must be able to optimize the design and re-run the optimized security features. Apply the protection that is built and then deploy it to the manufacturer. This end-to-end assessment helps to integrate the security features as per the upgradations.
Step 2: work on existing security designs: with the increase in the cyber-attacks and new security breaches, the existing security designs should be remodeled and work on security options. This might help to cope up with the cyber-attacks and thus build on the security of the systems.
Step 3: Maintain and upgrade security upgradations: Maintain and upgradation to the embedded systems is a very important part of the security part, as this will help in preventing any threats to the systems. There should be secure communications, secure default configs in the system, and security response to any kind of threats that might attack these systems.
Step 4: All-time Support for cyber-attacks: Design and test for security, integrate security to the product lifespan, handle high priority defects, hire a security response team who can support 24*7 communications to both internal and external teams.
List out the Embedded Systems Security
Embedded systems are the systems that are designed for some particular purpose by integrating both software and hardware components. Embedded system is closely a part of our daily life as if you are at home or office, in a clinic, or on travel. We have several examples of embedded security systems on our daily life basis.
Few of the list is given below:
- Digital Camera: It is a Hardware component used to click photographs with a software component integrated into it. There are also security features linked to maintaining the privacy of any users.
- Washing machine: It is a Hardware component used for washing clothes with a software component integrated into it to maintain the track on the number of swirls taken place while washing the clothes.
- Calculator: It is a Hardware component used to calculate arithmetic operations with a software component integrated with it.
- ATM Machines: It is a Hardware component used to collect money or deposit money from the bank with a software component integrated with it. There are also security features linked to maintaining the privacy of any users.
- Telephones/Smart Phones: It is a Hardware component used to communicate with each other from a distant place with a software component integrated with it. There are also security features linked to maintaining the privacy of any users.
- Traffic Signals: It is a Hardware component used to track the traffic on roads with a software component integrated with it.
- Security Camera, Microwave Oven, Alarm Clock, Scanners, Refrigerators, Vending Machines are also few examples of embedded security systems.
In the world of the advanced technology era, cybersecurity threats are surrounded to connect the devices that are becoming riskier and riskier. It depends on the security features of the operating system that decides the global level of cybersecurity threats of an entire embedded system. End-to-end assessment of an embedded security system is very important as there is an increase in the commitment by all companies to meet their demands or fulfill their protocols.
Embedded security systems vary from small and movable devices like smartwatches, smartphones, alarm clock, etc. to huge electronic installations like Scanners, Printers, traffic lights, Refrigerators, and other big and complex components such as clinical systems like Scanner, ECG, hybrid vehicles, etc.
This is a guide to Embedded Systems Security. Here we discuss what is Embedded Systems Security, how it is done along with the list of challenges faced. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –